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02-10-2012, 08:43 AM   #1
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GXR-K. the 'real' mirrorless K-Mount?

Few people are completely happy with the introduction of the K-01. Complaints abound about it's size, industrial design, lack of Tilt-LCD, EVF or price compared to the K-5. That's a lot of perceived faults, especially in contrast to Olympus's OM-D launch the week after.

With the K-01's launch I can only assume a GXR-K is imminent as both Pentax and Ricoh are known as true "photographer" brands and the K-01 certainly isn't too appealing to that market.

A GXR-K module ticks off most of the boxes "photographers" want, ergonomics, controls, size, EVF ability and yes, looks. Not to mention, with GXR-M mount, the GXR has already introduced something novel to non-Medium Format digital photography, interchangeable sensors (16-24mp?).

Pentax|Ricoh can't introduce the GXR-K soon enough if they're to be taken seriously as a relevant photography brand, especially with the release of the new OM-D and Fuji-X Pro. The K-5 certainly remains as one of the top cameras available, but it's only one product, and it's not new.

What do we expect from a GXR-K module?

- I'd need it to have a small but powerful enough AF motor to drive most DA lenses (maybe even just the Limiteds? MF for the rest?)

- at least the K-5/K-01's 16mp sensor, although and this is a big although, I'd be ok with *giving up SR* if it meant keeping the K-module to a reasonable thickness. yes i said it.

- a simultaneously released new external EVF more competitive to today's EVFs

- unfortunately neither weather sealing nor tilt-LCD is an option, does this call for a GXR-II?

02-10-2012, 09:04 AM   #2
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You left out better video. That's a deal-breaker for me.
02-10-2012, 09:22 AM   #3
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GXR II
larger (marginally base body with WR sealing, better screen, (maybe even EVF) mark II focus peaking, abiltity to take modules for larger mounts like the K mount
Then there is the K module
2 ways to do this i think.
1 - a module with the correct registry distance only K mount supporting full AF and with SR
2 - a module with Sr and full af support and assorted mount tube for different AF mounts the first being K mount (and included with the module) with optional EF and Alpha and Nikon AI tubes available

in both cases since this will be the Enthusiast option it should ccome with the new 24mpp sony sensor to give it a longer shelf life before a Mk 2 version needs to come out.

New OLED EVF if EVF is not on the body

IF it is a FF then the mount needs to be small enough to adapt the m mount lenses as well (which would be massive on the RF forum)

Brand it Pentax Ricoh discretely

distribute through both distribution chains
02-10-2012, 09:23 AM   #4
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I'm not impressed overall with the GXR system. I know they're trying to bring some of the flexibility of medium-format backs to consumer territory, and I'm aware of the benefits (and drawbacks) of sealed sensor-lens units. However, they put the two most expensive components together in a package. Instead of splitting a camera into body + lens/sensor, they should have split it into body + sensor + lensunit/mount. That would retain many of the benefits they're trying for, while allowing lenses to be much cheaper. Having to pay $600 for a 3.5-5.6 kit lens is simply unacceptable to me, and the M-mount unit offers no real advantage over a NEX mirrorless.

To my mind, that's a tremendous missed potential. The same technology to feel a rangefinder focus cam could be used to feel the aperture lug for my -M and -K series glass, and I believe it's already used on the 645D. If you had mechanical focus detection, you could do fun things like ask the user to input the lens focal length, then draw perspective lines to the horizon and show exactly where the plane of peak focus is - at any aperture. Just one example, I'm sure their engineers could come up with something even better.

The real potential of these camera modules is true native support for the features of each camera system. What would personally get me to buy one is if my old glass Just Worked, just like a film body. That means full open-aperture metering (what is this, 1965?), auto-stopdown, proper focus detection from rangefinder cams, autofocus motors (if they can cram one in that tiny module) and so on. If it made it a pleasure to use my favorite glass I would buy one in a heartbeat. Otherwise, it's just a K-01 in disguise (GXR-K) or an awkward NEX (GXR-A12 M mount), or absurd ($600 kit lens)


Last edited by Paul MaudDib; 02-10-2012 at 09:33 AM.
02-10-2012, 09:33 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul MaudDib Quote
... However, they put the two most expensive components together in a package. Instead of splitting a camera into body + lens/sensor, they should have split it into body + sensor + lensunit/mount. That would retain many of the benefits they're trying for, while allowing lenses to be much cheaper. Having to pay $600 for a 3.5-5.6 kit lens is simply unacceptable to my mind, and the M-mount unit offers no real advantage over a NEX mirrorless....
Isn't a GXR-K module close to what you're asking for? not including a lens in the unit but just the mount? the advantage of the M-mount unit over NEX is that the sensor is interchangeable; choosing between a 16mp or 24mp sensor, or being ready for the next big upgrade. that's huge, and unheard of short of huge and expensive medium-format backs.
02-10-2012, 09:47 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by illdefined Quote
Isn't a GXR-K module close to what you're asking for? not including a lens in the unit but just the mount? the advantage of the M-mount unit over NEX is that the sensor is interchangeable; choosing between a 16mp or 24mp sensor, or being ready for the next big upgrade. that's huge, and unheard of short of huge and expensive medium-format backs.
No, I mean there should be a body unit, a sensor unit that goes into that, and then a lens or a mount unit that goes on that. Currently, you buy the sensor attached to the mount, which is close but not quite the same. Imagine being able to select an APS-C or FF sensor, then plugging the mount on top of that. Is Ricoh bringing a 24mp version of the A12 out already? Seems a bit soon.

Anyway, my point is that you could buy the M-mount unit and adapt whatever lenses you want, but there really isn't an advantage to that over just buying a NEX and adapting in the first place. What I'm suggesting is you could natively support multiple lens mounts. Imagine Pentax, Nikon, Canon FD, Konica, Leica, Cosina glass all working properly, like they would on a film camera. Imagine the fun things you could do if you used all the information the lens gives you (focus distance for rangefinder lenses, aperture for manual glass). Mirrorless cameras already hypothetically lose some lens sales to people who adapt old lenses. Most people who buy the NEX are probably not doing it to buy new lenses - there's basically one (huge) kit lens, one pancake prime, a few mainstay lenses (long tele zoom, 50mm prime, etc), and two expensive adapters for legacy glass.

By the way I'm kind of curious whether bringing out a K-mount unit would more or less kill the kit lens unit. If you had a choice of paying $650 for a sealed kit lens+sensor, or $600 + $100 for a K-mount unit plus a K-mount kit lens, I would pick the system that would leave me with the expansion potential in a heartbeat. This will be an interesting test of how much people actually want a sealed lens-sensor unit.

Last edited by Paul MaudDib; 02-10-2012 at 10:13 AM.
02-10-2012, 10:03 AM   #7
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One more thing - open up the firmware to user modification. No, really. Let hobbyists write code for the body unit. Look at CHDK for the Canon P+S cameras, and all the wonderful things people can do with just BASIC scripts. Can you imagine being able to control camera functions from code? How about limiting focus ranges on macro lenses without needing a hardware switch? Software intervalometers? The sky is the limit. Look at Rockbox and everything hobbyists have done for MP3 players. If you make the community invested in and involved with creating features for the camera to fit their specific needs, they will love you to pieces. You don't have to support 3rd party code, just do your best to make it un-brickable (scripting over firmware would work) and let the fans experiment.

The first camera company who tries to make the camera experience powerful and fun for photographers instead of seeing what they can get their fans to choke down is going to reap huge gains. Ideologically, the GXR seems to be the perfect system for this. They've already established they don't necessarily need to sell new lenses to make a profit (the M-mount unit), and the system is perfectly set up and modularized to enable native support for various mounts. Go the extra mile and make it pleasurable to use my old lenses, and the camera nerd market will buy them like hotcakes.

Last edited by Paul MaudDib; 02-10-2012 at 10:33 AM.
02-10-2012, 10:09 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul MaudDib Quote
No, I mean there should be a body unit, a sensor unit that goes into that, and then a lens or a mount unit that goes on that. Currently, you buy the sensor attached to the mount, which is close but not quite the same. Is Ricoh bringing a 24mp version of the A12 out already? Seems a bit soon.

Anyway, my point is that you could buy the M-mount unit and adapt whatever lenses you want, but there really isn't an advantage to that over just buying a NEX and adapting in the first place. What I'm suggesting is you could natively support multiple lens mounts. Imagine Pentax, Nikon, Canon FD, Konica, Leica, Cosina glass all working properly, like they would on a film camera. Imagine the fun things you could do if you used all the information the lens gives you (focus distance for rangefinder lenses, aperture for manual glass).

By the way I'm kind of curious whether bringing out a K-mount unit would more or less kill the GXR kit lens unit. If you had a choice of paying $600 for a sealed kit lens+sensor, or $600 + $100 for a K-mount unit plus a K-mount kit lens, I would pick the system that would leave me with the expansion potential in a heartbeat. This will be an interesting test of how much people actually want a sealed lens-sensor unit.
No there isn't a 24mp A12 unit. Yet. That's the point. 2013 there could be.

Sure, I don't see why the Mount units couldn't give max native compatibility other than license agreements.

Maybe the GXR reliance on combined lens/sensor units needs to be killed. The GXR has been out a while now, the long term profitability of its lens/sensor units can probably be judged by now. A GXR-K unit may give the system new life as an interchangeable sensor AND mount mirrorless camera, just like the M mount unit resuscitated it before. The possibility of specialized closed lens/sensor combos (underwater units?) becomes a bonus and not its primary feature.

With Pentax now in control of Ricoh's operations vs. the other way around, who knows?

02-10-2012, 10:13 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul MaudDib Quote
I'm not impressed overall with the GXR system.
The real potential of these camera modules is true native support for the features of each camera system. What would personally get me to buy one is if my old glass Just Worked, just like a film body. That means full open-aperture metering (what is this, 1965?), auto-stopdown, proper focus detection from rangefinder cams, autofocus motors (if they can cram one in that tiny module) and so on. If it made it a pleasure to use my favorite glass I would buy one in a heartbeat. Otherwise, it's just a K-01 in disguise (GXR-K) or an awkward NEX (GXR-A12 M mount), or absurd ($600 kit lens)
GXR is made like tank and has better focus peaking system with M-module than NEX and rather interesting line of modules.
02-10-2012, 10:18 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by illdefined Quote
No there isn't a 24mp A12 unit. Yet. That's the point. 2013 there could be.

Sure, I don't see why the Mount units couldn't give max native compatibility other than license agreements.

Maybe the GXR reliance on combined lens/sensor units needs to be killed. The GXR has been out a while now, the long term profitability of its lens/sensor units can probably be judged by now. A GXR-K unit may give the system new life as an interchangeable sensor AND mount mirrorless camera, just like the M mount unit resuscitated it before. The possibility of specialized closed lens/sensor combos (underwater units?) becomes a bonus and not its primary feature.

With Pentax now in control of Ricoh's operations vs. the other way around, who knows?
Well no 24 mp yet but rumour is one using the k5 sensor is there since the m mountor chewed through their supply of the old sensor apparently (and it would be the first with the new sensor - excluding potential K mount)

As a system it requires a paradigm shift in how we look at these things though.

I think the GXR II when it comes will see some interesting changes to keep it relevant)
02-10-2012, 12:21 PM   #11
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Would anyone be surprised if the module lacked AF support? I say this due to the fact that this would cannibalize the K-01. Plus I am looking at the price of the M mount. How much more for the K mount with AF ?
02-10-2012, 12:25 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by MSM Quote
Would anyone be surprised if the module lacked AF support? I say this due to the fact that this would cannibalize the K-01. Plus I am looking at the price of the M mount. How much more for the K mount with AF ?
Since it would only be CDAF which is cheaper to implement and they own all the K mount AF patents so no real development cost I would assume M mount + $100. M mountor required some reverse engineering and development of a peaking focus system to work
02-10-2012, 12:52 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by eddie1960 Quote
Since it would only be CDAF which is cheaper to implement and they own all the K mount AF patents so no real development cost I would assume M mount + $100. M mountor required some reverse engineering and development of a peaking focus system to work
yes but you also have to add the screw AF motor which adds size and price.

the M-mount has a bulge on its left side for it's focal plane shutter, would a K-Module needs this too?
02-10-2012, 01:19 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by illdefined Quote

the M-mount has a bulge on its left side for it's focal plane shutter, would a K-Module needs this too?
Depends on how you design it. You can do it electronically, like a P+S, but that causes the "rolling shutter" problem and smearing. Most cameras have a mechanical shutter and the modules are small, so "yes" is a reasonable guess.
02-10-2012, 04:20 PM   #15
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The cost is a real issue to me. A 12 mp sensor M mount. That runs $650 USD. Upgrade the sensor to a 16 MP and add Screw drive let say adds 100$. Now you are paying the same price for the K-01. Also that would not include the GXR body, SR, ability to run SDM/DC motors which all would add cost. I'm interested since I like the form and concept of the GXR.
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